Learning is an intensely personal, messy journey.

Because of the way the web tends to work, often with homogeneous groups clustering around concepts and perspectives they already love, I suspect that most of the people who read the DML Research Hub tweet, above, nodded knowingly before they retweeted it or moved on to the next one in their feed.  But if you stop to think about it, “Learning is an intensely personal, messy journey” is not the way a lot of people think about learning or education.

Until a few years ago, I certainly didn’t think of it that way. There was nothing personal or student-centered about a perfect score on a standardized test. And messiness, uncertainty, vulnerability, struggle – those were all indications of a lack of professionalism or preparation, depending on the context. My discomfort with the personal, messy nature of learning has played itself out in my relationship with my own blog.  Out of necessity, my blog is a place for me to struggle and experiment.  But just because vulnerability is necessary for learning doesn’t mean I’ve always worn my struggles like honor ribbons.  As a student and occasional teacher I find myself confronting my habits of instruction-centeredness all the time.  I have to remind myself that it’s acceptable to struggle publicly while learning; to value process knowledge, reflective practice, and meta analysis over content acquisition; to concentrate on projects that suit my interests; and to question and occasionally challenge my doctoral program requirements and cultural expectations. I’m fighting to transform my own assumptions about learning–a paradigm of depersonalized, compartmentalized learning–all the time.

As I struggle to adopt a kinder, more holistic, inclusive, flexible, and joyful framework for education (my own and others), I find Connected Learning to be an ongoing source of inspiration.  I am very excited to participate in #ConnectedCourses because I need as much exposure to the concepts as I can get; exposure leads to confrontation of current beliefs, and ultimately transformation.  That, plus the people leading the sessions write some pretty interesting stuff 🙂



10 Comments Add yours

  1. Unknown says:

    Hi Laura, and welcome! I learned, when I interviewed George Siemens about learning in cMOOCs, that struggling to make connections between and make sense of the texts, posts, comments, tweets, and videos with other learners — “embracing the chaos” — is more important than trying to slot pieces of knowledge into proper categories.


  2. swatson217 says:

    What you said here – “transform my own assumptions about learning” – that is exactly it for me; I fight the monster of complacency as if it were a storm always threatening. I loved CLMOOC because it beautifully knocked me out of any possibe complacency and into a fun, questioning space. Looking forward to #ccourses!


  3. Laura Gogia says:

    I've seen your wonderful interviews! In some ways I agree with embracing the chaos – although categorizing is my special form of relaxation and meaning-making…I'd hate to do away with it completely. But how do I reconcile “embracing the chaos” with the concept of assessment? How do I reconcile “embracing the chaos” with the class I sit in every Tuesday from 4 to 6:40pm (that would be “Educational Tests and Measures”) that is based on the underlying assumptions that standardization is good, that the perfect multiple choice test can be created, and that “alternative” assessments are impractical at their best and ineffective at their worst? That's a rhetorical question – the answer is that the other people in the class wouldn't handle chaos very well. I want to find that gray zone between embracing the chaos and slotting knowledge into pretty little categories. I suspect that it's an edgy sort of place. Thanks for checking in. I look forward to what is looking to be a great time and I will watch your interview with George Siemens again as a refresher :).


  4. Laura Gogia says:

    Yes, because why be lazy? Sedentary bodies tend to remain sedentary. I too am looking forward to #ccourses. Thanks for commenting 🙂


  5. daveh70 says:

    I think connectedcourses.net is likely to become historically significant, and I'm excited to be here for it. The main point, as I see it right now, is to foster the open exchange and continual refinement of ideas and techniques: Engelbart's augmentation of human intellect in practice. This can also be applied to plain old content acquisition, where we have much room for improvement.


  6. Laura Gogia says:

    I agree that the connection to Engelbart is fascinating. The idea of bootstrapping in this context…I see connected learning as encouraging students to get the most “bang for their buck” – to overlay learning, living, and giving into a seamless process. I'm sure the next few months will allow me to test/refine my hypothesis 🙂


  7. Unknown says:

    One part of bootstrapping that seems particularly applicable is the idea of building tools to help us think and communicate more effectively, then using those tools to build better tools. In a sense, that is what we're trying to do with formal (institutional) and informal (online) learning. And in important ways, the tools I refer to are more about attitudes and social relationships than about blogs, gifs, hashtags, and hangouts. (I'm not sure why my posts use my gravatar but label me as “unknown” — trying to figure it out).


  8. Unknown says:

    Ouch! You've touched my weak spot! I'm far from expert in “educational tests and measures,” although I've explored alternative forms of assessment. I'm sorry, but I'm a hater of tests. I'm not arguing that they are wrong, wrong, wrong — I don't have the expertise to make that argument. I just know that I hated them as a student (I did very well on tests and it took me years to figure out that it didn't mean I was all that smart — it meant that I had figured out how to ace tests). I'm not against categories, though! (Although tagging now gives us more freedom to store and retrieve and connect than folders and categories and subfolders and subcategories alone).


  9. Laura Gogia says:

    No worries 🙂 I, for one, know who you are. And I'm very excited about what you are suggesting. The specifics of technicalities are NOT what I'm about, although I'm glad and relieved other people take them very seriously.


  10. Laura Gogia says:

    Well then we are definitely on the same page :). I hate tests (although, like you, I've done very well on them). But I suppose I need to learn more about them so that I can so a better job of verbalizing my argument against them and offering an alternative approach, because I do believe assessment has its place (although assessment of what, when, who, and how?). And after spending hours this weekend organizing articles in Zotero and using both folders and tags simultaneously, I had an a-ha moment on why tagging is so much better than folders. It was a really fun a-ha moment, too, since I have been acquiescing to the pro-tagging argument without feeling it in my heart – now I feel it in my heart and can go forth and advocate passionately for tagging :).


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